When the Chapman men’s basketball team and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps took the court Tuesday night at the Hutton Sports Center, both teams had already clinched the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds respectively in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament that begins on Friday, meaning the two teams will square off again on Friday in the same building.
That meant that the only thing on the line in Tuesday’s game was momentum going into Friday, which is now with Claremont, as the Stags (13-11, 8-8) defeated the Panthers (18-6, 12-4), 77-73 on Chapman’s Senior Night.
“We’re in a good place right now,” said Head Coach Mike Bokosky. “We’ve won the championship outright so we’re just looking forward to Friday.”
Despite the game being essentially meaningless, both teams continued to play hard, as there were 12 ties and 15 lead changes. Neither team led by more than seven at any point in the game.
The loss snaps a four-game win streak for Chapman, as the Panthers had also won 10 of their last 11 games going into Tuesday. It also erases the Panthers undefeated home record, which now stands at 9-1 on the season.
Junior guard Luke Hamlin led all scorers with 26 points to go along with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Senior forward Davis Dragovich also turned in a solid performance in his last regular season game. The lone player remaining from the 2012-13 team had 16 points and six rebounds on the night.
“Before the ceremony I didn’t really know how I was going to feel,” Dragovich said. “But as it began I just started thinking (of) all the good times from the last four years and it really is a fun event for us seniors.”
Despite the loss on Tuesday, Dragovich is confident that the team can win on Friday and advance to the conference finals for the third consecutive season if it improves on the defensive end.
“We still feel confident that if we come ready to play and have a little better effort on the defensive end of the floor we can come out with the win,” he said.
Claremont outscored Chapman in bench points 24-5, but Chapman’s top scorer, freshman guard Cam Haslam, was out of the game with an illness. He is expected to be back Friday.
The rematch will once again take place in the Hutton Sports Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m. It will take two wins for Chapman to win the conference title and advance to the NCAA tournament.